Select Board: New board chair shares vision for the future

A Vision for Bennington47180523
By Tom Jacobs, Bennington Select Board Chair
April 27, 2015

Thank you board colleagues and community members.

Please indulge me for a few moments for my observation of need and my hope for the new board.

The new seating format and the way the agenda will be constructed is intended as a small message that we in town government have to be more nimble in addressing challenges as  well as opportunity and be creative and challenge the community to  take risks and make public investment in our community.

The board must be seen as the catalyst for change and encourage innovation, risk taking and new ways to accomplish the town’s goals. Business as usual or doing things the way they have always been done will not assure our town of vitality or viability.

I want to provide for meaningful and productive exchange by the board and the community on how we can make some of the hopes for the community become a reality. We intend to invite local businesses to our meeting on a regular basis to exchange their community experience in real time

We shouldn’t be putting an emphasis on just recruiting and retaining business we should be recruiting people and ideas and formulating a common vision for what this town wants to and can accomplish.

To do so we have to seek and engage both public and private investment in time and money. Entrepreneurs built this town and we need more ways to encourage and support new ideas be they incubator or creative use of the town’s Economic Development Fund.

We need as a town not only continued planning but a timeline for implementation for some of the projects that continue to languish in the planning phase. A couple of examples being  the long discussed but not installed pedestrian/bike path ways,  and the finalization and implementation of the plan to make the Merchants Bank park a true community asset.

We need to give form to some of the various improvement plans and designs for our downtown.

We need to look at what we want for development of the Northside Drive area and then pursue a timeline for making it a reality.

We need to use social media as a productive tool and not just a forum to complain about the present status of things.

I have already heard from a number of folks who are willing to step up with ideas and investment. I expect the board and town management will join that effort.

Finally I hope the board will convene a town meeting type forum to hear from the community on what it wants Bennington to be.

So let’s get started we have a lot of work to do.